Time To End War on Drugs? 
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Time To End War on Drugs? 
Posted by CN Staff on May 04, 2009 at 04:54:49 PT
Source: Reporter
USA -- You know it's time to pay attention when liberals and conservatives begin to voice the same thought: How much longer can we afford to treat marijuana as a dangerous drug?The push to legalize marijuana has been promoted by liberal groups for decades. But as state and federal governments looks for ways to cut costs and raise revenues, conservatives are chiming in.
The cover story of the March 7 issue of the Economist magazine laid out an argument for ending the entire war on drugs. The magazine pointed out that, despite all of the eradication efforts, the number of people using illegal drugs has not decreased in the last 10 years.Further, it noted, the United States spends $40 billion and arrests 1.5 million people a year in an attempt to reduce illegal drug consumption. Keeping one prisoner in jail costs approximately $30,000 a year, and about half of the people in jail today are there because of drug offenses.U.S. drug policies are making criminal gangs rich beyond belief and helping to destabilize countries around the world. It is now almost suicidal to be a police officer in Mexico, where officers are assassinated with impunity by drug lords -- violence that is spilling into the United States. Afghanistan's warlords -- as well as the Taliban, which has moved into parts of Pakistan -- support their troops with profits from opium sales.In the United States, organized crime is responsible for most of the drug trade. These are the same kinds of gangs that made it rich bootlegging alcohol during Prohibition in the early 20th century. It should be clear by now that outlawing something only makes people want it more.Proponents of marijuana legalization claim that instead of fighting its use with courts and prisons, the government should legalize it, tax it and educate people about its effects, just as is done with cigarettes and alcohol. Instead of spending $40 billion a year, they say, the U.S. could be making $40 billion a year in taxes.Decriminalization also would allow more study on its medical benefits.There are, of course, arguments against decriminalization. Children already have too easy access to cigarettes and alcohol. Who wants to add legalized marijuana to that mix? There are concerns about marijuana leading to "harder" drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine -- the kinds of drugs that account for most of the drug-related prison sentences.There are a lot of facts, myths and emotions on both sides of the issue, but that doesn't mean we should ignore it. And just because we have criminalized it for 50 years, does not mean that we have to continue doing so for the next 50 years.As support for legalizing "possession of small amounts for personal use" grows -- a Washington Post-ABC News poll last week showed 46 percent of Americans support that -- it is time for a national discussion about America's drug policies.Source: Reporter, The (Vacaville, CA)Published: May 4, 2009Copyright: 2009 The ReporterContact: letters thereporter.comWebsite: Justice Archives
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Comment #1 posted by rchandar on May 05, 2009 at 16:34:22 PT:
For the Children
"children already have easy access to cigarettes and alcohol."Come on, we've been hearing this for so many years. Every politician comes on strong when it comes to "protecting our children"--why is it then, that high school students always say it's easier to get MJ than alcohol or cigs?One story I remember: when they busted a 5-year old kid for carrying weed. Yes, five years old. Apparently his grandmother had given it to him, and he was caught at school. Some of these mis-notions ignore the very real situation: namely, that keeping MJ illegal makes it dangerous, a dare, a something that kids will want to do to prove themselves or just to rebel. Taking it out of their hands does not always mean derogating something that is useful to others. Or, we'd just have to face facts: adults are expendable, kids aren't. Too much knowledge is bad for everybody. We adults are such culprits--we can't be led as easily. But this idea that MJ isn't easily available to kids is ludicrous--it's a falsehood that, judging from this article, remains safely in the mainstay.--rchandar
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